The great "Bone or Tusq" debate rolls on and on and I would appreciate some advice.
I have heard that Tusq is the better of the two when used with the Fishman Matrix UST. Bone can be subject to "soft" spots whereas, Tusq is not only more consistant but also has a minute amount of flexibility that allows it to sit on the profile of the UST better.
Any advice or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.


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I have installed a lot of Matrix/Martin Thinline Golds in many different guitars and bridge configurations - the one thing I know from this is that the transducer is awfully forgiving of the things around it (saddle bottom flatness, slot depth and width, saddle type and material etc) - I have used a lot of Tusq and propriety synthetics and I have used bone where necessary such as the martin 'vintage' style bridges - the results are consistently good and I have only had to route out saddle bottoms on a few occasions where the top has an extreme belly up.
Obviously, a little bit of 'give' is a good thing for conformal transducers but regardless of Fishmans preference for this type of material the bone saddles seem to work well despite their stiffness. That's all I know. Rusty.
Acoustic response is markedly better with real bone. I prefer unbleached, but that said, the idea that bone is inherently inconsistent or has soft spots seems rather silly. I've done thousands and thousands of saddles over the last 40+ years. The only ones I had trouble with were either "fossil ivory" or plastic. Like Rusty, I don't have problems with bone over USTs.

I'd never put even a ta-ta plastic saddle in an instrument I cared to hear perform at optimal acoustic effectiveness (in fact I probably wouldn't use a UST at all for that matter). I routinely throw away Martin's plastic factory saddles and replace them with bone, a signal improvement every time. But if you're going to install a pickup under a saddle, perfect acoustic response is somewhat a moot detail.

Here's a thought: it would cost you next to nothing to have one of each made, and you could decide for yourself if one is better than the other. If one good luthier fit both fofr you at the same time, so the fit and setup was identical, you'd know something.
Tusq is much softer and if one plays hard and/or changes strings often it will wear grooves much, much sooner than bone. If one has a high saddle it can be quickly evened out for a while but if the saddle is low then the Tusq can only be reprofiled a couple of times before replacement.

And I've never encountered soft spots in bones even while working with various bones/antlers I've found over the years as well as store-bought.

All aesthetics aside, I prefer bone when I'm looking to brighten things up a bit, Tusq™ when I want to soften 'em a bit... and, yes, even the dread plastic when the customer's been happy with it and is just looking to keep the price down. All other factors being equal, I prefer Tusq™ for most UST's, citing the aforementioned flexibility. For sheer looks, though, nothing looks better a slightly off-colored bone saddle with matching nut.... just my 2¢ worth.
Tusq is plastic!
You know what I meant. ...anyway, run that past GraphTech and see how that works out for you.
Thanks for taking the time and trouble to reply........much appreciated.
I've tried both and have taken onboard all the opinions and advice on this subject expressed on different forums.
I have recently replaced the bone saddle with Tusq in my Avalon 12string, and have definetly come down on the side of Tusq; just a better sound and response............ I think!
Six months down the line I'll probably change my mind again, are we never happy ???



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